Chicago Green Office Challenge 2015 Winners Announced

New winners have been crowned in the Green Office Challenge—an ongoing competition where commercial offices implement sustainable practices. While winning the challenge is certainly an honor, the true benefits are better energy efficiency, reduced utility costs and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions.

Hyatt Center, managed by 71 South Wacker Holdings LLC.

Hyatt Center, managed by 71 South Wacker Holdings LLC.

Over 500 individuals from 170 Chicago offices took part in this year’s challenge, implementing strategies to strengthen and promote sustainable practices. They completed over 2,850 activities to improve office sustainability, ranging from retrofitting lighting and water fixtures to redesigning office recycling programs.

Half of the participants also brought the challenge into their homes, using energy-saving devices like smart strips and programmable thermostats to reduce their environmental impacts. “This year, we saw more participants take these sustainability lessons into their homes than ever before, which means that we’re positively influencing individual behavior in both residential as well as commercial spaces,” said Delta Institute CEO Jean Pogge. “Delta Institute is proud to help inspire that sustainability ripple effect across Chicago.”

The Sustainability Grand Champion was 71 South Wacker Drive Holdings LLC, which also won awards for water, waste and purchasing impacts. Architecture firm Perkins Eastman was recognized as an Outstanding Sustainability Leader and won additional awards for employee engagement and at-home impacts.

“As architects and designers, we encourage our clients to adopt environmentally-responsible and sustainable practices, wherever possible,” said Perkins Eastman architect Steven Burgos. “The Green Office Challenge presented our team with a fun and motivational platform to put those sustainable living principles into practice, and we were able to create a better, more efficient and less wasteful work environment in the process.”

The Energy Conservation Leader award went to American College of Healthcare Executives while Perkins Eastman & 71 South Wacker Holdings LLC shared the Green Transit Leader honor. The Social Media Master award was given to Coalition: Energy, the Outstanding Tenant Engagement to Riverview Realty Partners and the Greener Purchasing Policy Leader award went to Thornton Tomasetti. Finally, KPMG LLP were selected as the All-Star Green Team.

This year’s participants collectively reduced energy usage by 690,383 kWh and over 705,000 gallons of water annually. Expanded recycling and waste reduction efforts cut the equivalent of 71 tons of waste annually. Nearly all participating offices already offered office recycling, and many improved those programs through outreach programs or by expanding recycling streams to include batteries, e-waste, toner, plastic bags or compost.
Eight offices completed lighting retrofits, which are expected to save a collective over $48,000 in energy costs per year. Similarly, 263 individuals replaced incandescent light bulbs with CFL or LED bulbs at home, the greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to taking 10 cars off the road for a year.

“With energy use in buildings accounting for 71% of Chicago’s carbon emissions, the Green Office Challenge is a great opportunity for Chicago’s businesses to reduce their environmental impact while saving money and driving positive business results,” said City of Chicago Chief Sustainability Officer Karen Weigert. Originally launched in 2008, the citywide competition has served as a model for similar sustainability competitions across the country.

Photo: Wally Gobetz

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